The musically gifted express four main categories of intelligence that others posses to a lesser degree. When assessing the musically gifted it is important to evaluate all of these areas of cognitive performance. Musically gifted individuals often show talent in the area of special organization and problem solving. Composers and musicians are typically able to recognize patterns easily. Discovering the basic characteristics of the musically gifted will help you to identify these traits in others and yourself.
While it may be surprising to hear, not all people are able to recognize the difference between high and low pitches. The musically gifted will not only be able to recognize the difference between high and low pitches, they will be able to understand the relationship between pitches. When two pitches sound in harmony or melodic, they create an interval. The musically gifted can easily recognize the difference between intervals. Highly gifted individuals may even be able to pinpoint specific notes played.
Musically gifted individuals often exhibit an unusual ability to recall and repeat rhythmic patterns heard. These individuals can recognize a rhythmic pattern without the use of musical notation and can identify common structures in rhythms that others may not notice. A young child may exhibit this behavior by drumming rhythmically or being able to match short rhythms played by the parent. This skill requires a significant degree of spatial reasoning to accomplish.
Melody and Harmony
Melody and harmony are the basis for all music. Melody is the horizontal aspect of music often referred to as a tune or song. Harmony is the vertical aspect of music and deals with chords and chord progressions. Those that are musically gifted can easily memorize and recall melodies and harmonies. If you were to put a new melody over a previously played harmony the musically gifted would be able to identify the harmony was unchanged and vice-versa.
Timbre is a term used to describe the individual characteristics of an instrument tone. A clarinet has a different timbre than a flute and the musically gifted will be able to easily notice this. Some timbres are more obvious than others, such as a tuba and a piccolo. Gifted individuals often exhibit strong memories of timbre; and will perceive subtle difference between similar instruments like a cornet and trumpet.
- Helen Lancaster; Identifying the Gifted in Music; Helen Lancaster; December 2003
- "Psychology of Music"; Carl Seashore; 1967
Steven Miller graduated with a master's degree in 2010. He writes for several companies including Lowe's and IBM. He also works with local schools to create community gardens and learn environmentally responsible gardening. An avid gardener for 15 years, his experience includes organic gardening, ornamental plants and do-it-yourself home projects.